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A celebration of beauty, truth, and goodness, and, of course, love...and perhaps a little nastiness

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Saturday, October 12, 2002
Greek Church Rejects Image Change

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Greece's Orthodox Church has decided to stick with tradition, turning down a request by priests who wanted to shed their long beards, black robes and pipe hats, state-run radio said Wednesday.

Priests supporting the change said they wanted to modernize their image and increase their marriage prospects. Their conservative look, they said, also hurts their ability to reach out to ordinary people.

But the church rejected the long-standing request after it was considered Monday at a meeting of church elders.

"There is no change on this issue," said Metropolitan Bishop Anthimos, a church spokesman. High-ranking Greek orthodox clergy use only one name.

About 97 percent of Greece's 11 million native citizens are members of the Orthodox Church, and opponents of the dress code say most women are unwilling to be seen with a man in robes and a long beard.

Orthodox priests may marry only before they are ordained, and only single priests may rise above the lower ranks of the clergy.

Bishop Anthimos said exceptions to the dress code can be made only when priests are involved in manual labor.

"There must be understanding for priests who live in rural parishes," he said. "Many of them have to tend to their fields. It is acceptable for them to wear shorter robes."

Greek Orthodox priests in Athens, Greece


Yes! This declaration expresses many of my own deepest convictions and hopes.

(The Declaration was published in the name of the Liturgy Forum of the Centre for Faith and Culture, constituted under the chairmanship of Mgr Peter J. Elliott, a Vatican official and author of Ceremonies of the Roman Rite, at the conclusion of the Centre's summer conference in 1996).

The Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford (the church Newman preached his great Parochial and Plain Sermons)

1. Reflecting on the history of liturgical renewal and reform since the Second Vatican Council, the Liturgy Forum agreed that there have been many positive results. Among these might be mentioned the introduction of the vernacular, the opening up of the treasury of the Sacred Scriptures, increased participation in the liturgy and the enrichment of the process of Christian initiation. However, the Forum concluded that the preconciliar liturgical movement as well as the manifest intentions of Sacrosanctum Concilium have in large part been frustrated by powerful contrary forces, which could be described as bureaucratic, philistine and secularist.

2. The effect has been to deprive the Catholic people of much of their liturgical heritage. Certainly, many ancient traditions of sacred music, art and architecture have been all but destroyed, Sacrosanctum Concilium gave pride of place to Gregorian chant, yet in many places this "sung theology" of the Roman liturgy has disappeared without trace. Our liturgical heritage is not a superficial embellishment of worship but should properly be regarded as intrinsic to it, as it is also to the process of transmitting the Catholic faith in education and evangelization. Liturgy cannot be separated from culture; it is the living font of a Christian civilization and hence has profound ecumenical significance.

3. The impoverishment of our liturgy after the Council is a fact not yet sufficiently admitted or understood, to which the necessary response must be a revival of the liturgical movement and the initiation of a new cycle of reflection and reform. The liturgical movement which we represent is concerned with the enrichment, correction and resacralization of Catholic liturgical practice. It is concerned with a renewal of liturgical eschatology, cosmology and aesthetics, and with a recovery of the sense of the sacred - mindful that the law of worship is the law of belief. This renewal will be aided by a closer and deeper acquaintance with the liturgical, theological and iconographic traditions of the Christian East.

4. The revived liturgical movement calls for the promotion of the Liturgy of the Hours, celebrated in song as an action of the Church in cathedrals, parishes, monasteries and families, and of Eucharistic Adoration, already spreading in many parishes. In this way, the Divine Word and the Presence of Christ's reality in the Mass may resonate throughout the day, making human culture into a dwelling place for God. At the heart of the Church in the world we must be able to find that loving contemplation, that adoring silence, which is the essential complement to the spoken word of Revelation, and the key to active participation in the holy mysteries of faith.

5. We call for a greater pluralism of Catholic rites and uses, so that all these elements of our tradition may flourish and be more widely known during the period of reflection and 'ressourcement' (going back to the sources) that lies ahead. If the liturgical movement is to prosper, it must seek to rise above differences of opinion and taste to that unity,which is the Holy Spirit's gift to the Body of Christ. Those who love the Catholic tradition in its fullness should strive to work together in charity, bearing each other's burdens in the light of the Holy Spirit, and persevering in prayer with Mary the Mother of Jesus.

6. We hope that any future liturgical reform would not be imposed on the faithful but would proceed, with the utmost caution and sensitivity to the sensus fidelium, from a thorough understanding of the organic nature of the liturgical traditions of the Church. Our work should be sustained by prayer, education and study. This cannot be undertaken in haste, or in anything other than a serene spirit. No matter what difficulties lie ahead, the glory of the Paschal Mystery - Christ's love, his cosmic sacrifice and his childlike trust in the Father - shines through every Catholic liturgy for those who have eyes to see, and in this undeserved grace we await the return of spring.

Saint Wilfrid of York: 634-709 (died on October 12)

If you think we live in "interesting" times for the Church, check out the life and times of bishop Wilfrid of York. And despite his strong pro-Roman stance throughout his entire life, the evangelical Protestant Christian History Institute gives a good outline of this saint on their daily calendar.

Another fine summary of Saint Wilfrid can be found on Kathy Rabenstein's extraordinary website, For All The Saints:

What a fascinating character! What a fascinating history!

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger on newly canonized Saint Josemaria Escriva: "Letting God Work"

"...From all this I have better understood the inner character of Opus Dei, this surprising union of absolute fidelity to the Church’s great tradition, to its faith, and unconditional openness to all the challenges of this world, whether in the academic world, in the field of work, or in matters of the economy, etc. The person who is bound to God, who has this uninterrupted conversation, can dare to respond to these challenges, and no longer has fear. For the person who stands in God’s hands always falls into God’s hands. And so fear vanishes, and in its place is born the courage to respond to today’s world."

Friday, October 11, 2002
The steady rise of religious radio

According to this Washington Times article, NPR isn't too pleased....

Live and let live

The Church can learn a lot from the "rooms" of A.A. One of A.A's common sayings is: "Live and let live." In other words, let others live their own lives as they see fit and not as I may think best or better - to practice a real tolerance of differences.

On Amy Welborn's popular blog, In Between Naps, Amy mentioned some facts about the Opus Dei building in NYC. Interesting observations about why it was built as it was. There are a good number of comments offered by readers of Amy's blog and it strikes me that many of these comments indicate a basic intolerance of differences and of unique charisms in the Church.

Of course, Opus Dei withstands these comments quite well, and continues about its mission and tasks in the Church and in the world. And, as John Allen points out in the NCR article I referenced twice earlier today, Opus Dei seems better than some others in living the motto: "Live and let live." And I really don't think too many members of Opus Dei are writing critical comments about other approaches and ways of attaining holiness. Perhaps too busy living their vocation themselves to be engaged in "ecclesiastical gossip"?

Whatever anyone is in Your sight, that he is and nothing more

The Imitation of Christ, Book III, chapter 50
This chapter seems just "perfect" for me these difficult days and nights... if only I could pray it with a sincere heart!



LORD God, Holy Father, may You be blessed now and in eternity. For as You will, so is it done; and what You do is good. Let Your servant rejoice in You - not in himself or in any other, for You alone are true joy. You are my hope and my crown. You, O Lord, are my joy and my honor.

What does Your servant possess that he has not received from You, and that without any merit of his own? Yours are all the things which You have given, all the things which You have made.

I am poor and in labors since my youth, and my soul is sorrowful sometimes even to the point of tears. At times, also, my spirit is troubled because of impending sufferings. I long for the joy of peace. Earnestly I beg for the peace of Your children who are fed by You in the light of consolation. If You give peace, if You infuse holy joy, the soul of Your servant shall be filled with holy song and be devout in praising You.

But if You withdraw Yourself, as You so very often do, he will not be able to follow the way of Your commandments, but will rather be obliged to strike his breast and bend the knee, because his today is different from yesterday and the day before when Your light shone upon his head and he was protected in the shadow of Your wings from the temptations rushing upon him.

Just Father, ever to be praised, the hour is come for Your servant to be tried. Beloved Father, it is right that in this hour Your servant should suffer something for You. O Father, forever to be honored, the hour which You knew from all eternity is at hand, when for a short time Your servant should be outwardly oppressed, but inwardly should ever live with You.

Let him be a little slighted, let him be humbled, let him fail in the sight of men, let him be afflicted with sufferings and pains, so that he may rise again with You in the dawn of the new light and be glorified in heaven.

Holy Father, You have so appointed and wished it. What has happened is what You commanded. For this is a favor to Your friend, to suffer and be troubled in the world for Your love, no matter how often and by whom You permit it to happen to him.

Nothing happens in the world without Your design and providence, and without cause. It is well for me, O Lord, that You have humbled me, that I may learn the justice of Your judgments and cast away all presumption and haughtiness of heart. It is profitable for me that shame has covered my face that I may look to You rather than to men for consolation. Hereby I have learned also to fear Your inscrutable judgment falling alike upon the just and unjust yet not without equity and justice.

Thanks to You that You have not spared me evils but have bruised me with bitter blows, inflicting sorrows, sending distress without and within. Under heaven there is none to console me except You, my Lord God, the heavenly Physician of souls, Who wound and heal, Who cast down to hell and raise up again. Your discipline is upon me and Your very rod shall instruct me.

Behold, beloved Father, I am in Your hands. I bow myself under Your correcting chastisement. Strike my back and my neck, that I may bend my crookedness to Your will. Make of me a pious and humble follower, as in Your goodness You are wont to do, that I may walk according to Your every nod. Myself and all that is mine I commit to You to be corrected, for it is better to be punished here than hereafter.

You know all things without exception, and nothing in man's conscience is hidden from You. Coming events You know before they happen, and there is no need for anyone to teach or admonish You of what is being done on earth. You know what will promote my progress, and how much tribulation will serve to cleanse away the rust of vice. Deal with me according to Your good pleasure and do not despise my sinful life, which is known to none so well or so clearly as to You alone.

Grant me, O Lord, the grace to know what should be known, to praise what is most pleasing to You, to esteem that which appears most precious to You, and to abhor what is unclean in Your sight.

Do not allow me to judge according to the light of my bodily eyes, nor to give sentence according to the hearing of ignorant men's ears. But let me distinguish with true judgment between things visible and spiritual, and always seek above all things Your good pleasure.

The senses of men often err in their judgments, and the lovers of this world also err in loving only visible things. How is a man the better for being thought greater by men? The deceiver deceives the deceitful, the vain man deceives the vain, the blind deceives the blind, the weak deceives the weak as often as he extols them, and in truth his foolish praise shames them the more. For, as the humble St. Francis says, whatever anyone is in Your sight, that he is and nothing more.

The Spirit of the Liturgy

The Last Supper by Fra Angelico

In today's mail I received the usual Zenit news reports and included in this was a major address on the Liturgy of the Roman Rite by professor Gerhard Ludwig Müller of the University of Munich during a videoconference organized Sept. 28, 2002, by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy. On Oct. 1, 2002, John Paul II appointed him bishop of Regensburg.

"..The liturgy in the Christian sense should not provoke romantic feelings, setting off social and political actions nor should it involve people in a pseudo-religious sense, but rather strengthen the faithful. The point of the liturgy is not to make us feel good, causing us to feel happy and allowing us to forget daily matters for a moment.

The liturgy derives from faith in the living God and in his Son Jesus Christ, instrument of redemption, who gives us eternal life (see John 17:3). The liturgy is the sacramental synthesis of the Church, instrument of the intimate union with God and of the unity of all mankind ("Lumen Gentium," No. 1).

Although in many places serious efforts are made to provide the liturgy with a meaningful form, one certainly cannot neglect the need for responsible people to take care of the transmission of the theological and spiritual contents of the sacraments and in particular of the eucharistic celebration.

So as to understand the difference between the initial dynamics of the liturgical movement, especially after the First World War with its successes and until the Vatican Council, and the liturgy's crisis at the end of the 20th Century, there are two books with almost identical titles, by Romano Guardini and by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, which might be useful.

So as to understand the difference between the initial dynamics of the liturgical movement, especially after the First World War with its successes and until the Vatican Council, and the liturgy's crisis at the end of the 20th Century, there are two books with almost identical titles, by Romano Guardini and by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, which might be useful.

While Guardini's book The Spirit of the Liturgy, which on the occasion of Easter 1918 inaugurated the famous "Ecclesia orans" series by the Abbot Ildefons Herwegen, describes a wonderful initial atmosphere, J. Ratzinger, who often refers to Guardini in his work "The Spirit of the Liturgy," attempts to make the essence of the liturgy understood in its profound spirituality and essential and real expressive forms including the kneeling, the joining of the hands, and also the forms of silent adoration and the spiritual dimension of verbal and mental communion.

Both these authors have confronted the problem from different points of view, a problem that has become increasingly serious in the course of the 20th century, including "modern man's liturgical capacity," of which Guardini spoke so much at the Mains Liturgical Conference in 1946. In an important conference held in 1965, during the university week in Salzburg, Joseph Ratzinger, in the happy atmosphere of the post-council liturgical reforms, confronted the problem of liturgical incapacity, speaking of the "crisis of the sacramental idea in the modern conscience..."

Cardinal Ratzinger's latest book on the Liturgy is available from Amazon.

THE SPIRIT OF THE LITURGY by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Order it now: THE SPIRIT OF THE LITURGY by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger


This is one of the classics written on this theme of Liturgy, and one of the great sources for the liturgical renewal prior to Vatican II. Written by a priest, a scholar and a PASTOR of souls - the great Msgr Romano Guardini. This book opens up so many vistas into the ethos and underlying vision of the Catholic liturgy and, yes, of the Christian life itself. So many things we may have missed along the way: but Guardini has a way of opening our eyes (and hearts). A BEAUTIFUL BOOK ON A BEAUTIFUL THEME!


"Taking the Discipline"

In the article I referenced below, John Allen's latest The Word from Rome, John writes about Opus Dei:

"First, I think Opus Dei crystallizes a basic difficulty many post-modern people, suspicious of absolutes of any sort, have in understanding the way religious commitment can impel people to “unusual” behavior that seems to smack of fanaticism. The leading case in point is usually Opus Dei’s taste for “spiritual discipline,” meaning imposing physical pain on oneself as a means of promoting holiness.

This fascination is endlessly frustrating for Opus Dei members themselves, who insist that such practices represent a marginal, and always optional, facet of their spirituality. Nevertheless, lashing oneself with a whip, or wearing a leather band with spikes, or even taking cold showers, is part of the spiritual life of many people in what insiders simply call “the Work,” and it can seem alien and baffling.

The “no pain, no gain” spirituality of Opus Dei goes straight back to Escriva....

Yet it is a fact that some of the greatest saints engaged in similar practices, from Philip Neri to Thomas Aquinas...."

And it might be good to know that taking the discipline, one of the traditonal practices of many religious orders before Vatican Council II, is still practiced by the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Vatican II and the Council of Trent

The Council of Trent, December 13, 1545 - December 4, 1563

Sometime in the early seventies Hans Urs von Balthasar commented along these lines:

The difference between Trent and Vatican II is this:

Trent took a Church that was in chaos and disrepair, and put it in good order and renewed holiness.

Vatican II took a Church in good order and put it into chaos and disrepair.

The difference being that Trent was implemented by saints; while Vatican II was implemented by bureaucrats.

The Second Vatican Council, October 11, 1962 - December 8, 1965

I was stunned to first encounter this observation by von Balthasar. And I think even he might have changed his opinion as the Second Vatican Council began to be implemented more authentically and find some fulfillment in the new ecclesial movements, etc.

But von Balthasar thought that in the implementation of Vatican II, there was "too much structure, not enough spirit." This seems quite accurate to me. But my own hope is that the authentic "spirit" of Vatican II will deepen in the Church and will bear yet richer fruit in a new springtide and a New Pentecost, such as Pope John XXIII prayed for when he called the Council and gave his famous Opening Address to the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962.

"MOTHER CHURCH rejoices that, by the singular gift of Divine Providence, the longed-for day has finally dawned when - under the auspices of the virgin Mother of God, whose maternal dignity is commemorated on this feast - the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council is being solemnly opened here beside St. Peter's tomb." (Blessed John XXIII)

(Ironically the reformed liturgy flowing from Vatican II removed the feast of the Mother of God referred to by the Pope - which may say something about the actual implementation and results of the Council!).

Happy Anniversary to all!

The mellowing of NCR's Rome correspondent

Over the years I have seen what seems to me as the "mellowing" of John Allen, the Rome correspondent for The National Catholic Reporter. It seems that doing the Rome beat has given him a much deeper appreciation of the Pope (and even of some of his collaborators). This has been a pleasant surprise (and John seems less likely as time goes on to add the expected blast or negative comment so frequent in both extremes of "left" and "right").

In his latest "The Word from Rome" John admits now to some real revision in his estimation of Opus Dei. And he has a few other observations worth looking at.

Swiss Bishops on persons with homosexual orientation

From The London Tablet:

People of homosexual orientation can carry out church ministries, so long as they live chaste lives, the Swiss bishops said in a statement on 3 October. The bishops did not look specifically at the ordained ministry, but at church ministries in general, which are often carried out by lay men and women.

But homosexuals who have chosen not to practise sexual continence are “inappropriate for a ministry of the Church”, the bishops said. “A life partnership of homosexual persons does not give the example that persons in the Church’s service ought to give to the Christian community.” Such partnerships did not “correspond to the order established by God”, they said.

The statement said the Church could bless homosexuals but not their partnerships. The blessing of gay unions could resemble a marriage ceremony and cause confusion. While the bishops were open to the possibility of legally registering homosexual partnerships to prevent social discrimination, society should never treat such unions as marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman had a unique character and must be unconditionally protected by the state, the bishops stressed.

The bishops noted the distinction made by the Church between homosexual orientation as neutral and active homosexual relations as wrong. This was not “hypocritical” on the Church’s part. The Church had learned that a sincere commitment to sexual continence did not diminish a human being, but could be an enrichment.

The bishops emphasised their opposition to discrimination against homosexuals and recognised that homosexuals had been subject to prejudice and mistreatment in the past. “As bishops, we regret this injustice, and we ask forgiveness if it has been allowed to be committed in the name of the Church or the Christian faith”, they said.

At the same time, they defended the Church’s own teaching as “demanding but profoundly human”. They cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which describes homosexual acts as “intrinsically disordered”, contrary to natural law and closed to the gift of life. The catechism says that homosexual inclination is “objectively disordered” and constitutes a trial for most homosexuals, who must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity.

The Swiss bishops acknowledged that the Church’s teaching might strike many people as harsh. “But the Church cannot in any case approve homosexual acts, even while aware that some priests and other representatives of the Church have failed painfully in the way they have lived their sexuality in general – including their homosexuality – and may fail again”, they said.

Vatican II Anniversary today - Council opened on Oct. 11, 1962

The London Tablet has the first installment of two on Vatican II by John Wilkins, Earthquake in Rome.

Thursday, October 10, 2002
Thinking Big!

Thanks to Steven Riddle of Flos Carmeli for pointing me to these excerpts of an email from Father Joe Fessio SJ:

"Dear Friend of Ignatius Press:

While continuing to be the Editor of Ignatius Press, I have been given a new assignment by my superiors: to become the founding Chancellor of Ave Maria University, the first new Catholic university established in the United States in nearly 50 years.

The story of what has already been accomplished and what is planned for the future would be exciting and encouraging in itself. But I believe that against the background of the present crisis in the Catholic Church, the founding of Ave Maria University will truly be of historic importance in the life of the Church. Let me explain...

Ave Maria University: The History

In 1998, Thomas Monaghan, the founder and owner of Domino’s Pizza, sold Domino’s and, after providing for his wife and four daughters, placed the proceeds of the sale into the Ave Maria Foundation with the intention of spending the rest of his life and fortune in the service of the Church. The main focus of Mr. Monaghan’s efforts has been education. The Ave Maria Foundation has funded several elementary schools: Spiritus Sanctus Academies; a new law school which at the end of its second year has just received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association and is already in the first tier of U.S law schools: Ave Maria School of Law; and a liberal arts college which is poised to become a major Catholic university: Ave Maria College.

There is already an Ave Maria campus in Nicaragua, and it was there that I heard Mr. Monaghan explain to amazed journalists why he had chosen to spend his fortune on higher education. Mr. Monaghan’s response was disarmingly simple, especially coming from someone who had achieved the pinnacle of worldly success: "The most important thing in life is to get to heaven. I want to get there and bring as many people as I can with me. The best way to help people get to heaven is to give them a Catholic education."

In the past year, Mr. Monaghan has been concentrating his attention more and more on one goal: establishing Ave Maria University and, with God’s help, making it the best Catholic university in the world. . . .

Ave Maria University: The Future

I am extremely grateful that Mr. Nick Healy, Jr., President of Ave Maria University, asked my Jesuit superiors if I could help in making the dream of Ave Maria University a reality, and that they granted this request. As Ave Maria University’s first chancellor, I have been involved in the past several months with the planning of AMU. The vision is an ambitious one. And even though Mr. Monaghan is committing his remaining resources to the task, it will require far more than even Mr. Monaghan is capable of providing . . .

The ultimate goal is to have a Catholic university with 4,000 undergraduate students, 2,000 graduate students - and a major intercollegiate sports program of uncompromising integrity!

Because negotiations are still underway, I can’t disclose the location of the new campus. But the plan is to have a 1,500-acre campus contiguous to a new town which will be built simultaneously with the university. At the intersection of the town and university will be the focal point of both: a beautiful university chapel.

Ave Maria University will have a full range of undergraduate programs, including the sciences, business, nursing, and performing arts - all with a solid, comprehensive Catholic liberal arts core curriculum. Graduate programs will focus on areas especially appropriate for a Catholic university: theology, philosophy, history, literature, education, communications, law. But graduate programs in science and engineering are being planned as well."


Wednesday, October 09, 2002
Another Homecoming Rememberd Today!

27 years ago, on the same day the ineffable grace was bestowed on John Henry Newman, October 9th, another was given the grace to be received into the Catholic Church, our own fellow St. Blogger, Lane Core Jr. Another enrichment! Both of Lane and of the Catholic Church!

Dear brother Lane, Deo gratias and ad multos annos!

If you live in or near New York City, a feast awaits you!

Go and see the art works from the Catholic Church in Spain on display at the (Episcopal) cathedral of Saint John the Divine.....

Included, among the 101 works, are "six early Bibles, including one printed by Gutenberg, as well as original letters and diaries by St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa of Avila, two of Spain's most famous Roman Catholic saints, all presented in a context that is deeply religious." Imagine reading words written by La Madre on her upcoming feast day (Oct. 15th)!

There is are several el Grecos, a Goya, and much much more. Exhibit runs until November 24th and IT IS FREE!!!! It is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. On Sundays it is open from 1 to 5 p.m.

(I may even make arrangements to get up there myself, so inviting does it sound - though how much better if it were being held at St Patrick's cathedral instead! But article may explain why it isn't).

Tuesday, October 08, 2002
A Homecoming Remembered

On October 9th, 1845, John Henry Newman was received into the Catholic Church. (Thanks, Donna Marie, for reminding me of this). This "conversion" was of great significance and still impacts many even today. Surely it was a day of great enrichment: both of John Henry Newman and of the Catholic Church!

The beginning of a journey:


(written before John Henry Newman became a Catholic - but from the perspective of how this prayer was fulfilled, how magnificent is God in His Mercy!)

Lead, Kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom -
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home -
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene - one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor pray'd that Thou
Shouldst lead me on.
I loved to choose and see my path, but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will; remember not past years.

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on,
O'er moor and fen, o'er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone;
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile.

Towards the end of the journey:

(These words were written in Newman's classic Apologia Pro Vita Sua, after long years - with many troubles and triumphs - as a Catholic):

"I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I have never had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervor; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption."

Here is the official prayer for the now Venerable John Henry Newman's canonization.

Eternal Father, You led JOHN HENRY NEWMAN to follow the kindly light of Truth, and he obediently responded to Your heavenly calls at any cost. As writer, preacher, counsellor and educator, as pastor, Oratorian, and servant of the poor he laboured to build up Your Kingdom.

Grant that through Your Vicar on Earth we may hear the words, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the company of canonized saints.'

May You manifest Your Servant's power of intercession by even extraordinary answers to the prayers of the faithful throughout the world. We pray particularly for our intentions in his name and in the Name of Jesus Christ Your Son our Lord. Amen.

"O long sought-after desire of the eyes, joy of the heart, the truth after many shadows, the fullness after many foretastes, the home after many storms - come to her, poor wanderers, for she it is, and she alone, who can unfold the meaning of your being and the secret of your destiny" (John Henry Newman).

An Art Essay by Michael Morris, O.P.

Out of the garden and into the hands of millions of devout Christians, the rosary has become one of the leading meditational devices for prayer in the history of the Church.

The word "rosary" originally referred to a garden where roses grow. But today, the word refers to the chaplet or string of beads that progressively chart the mysteries of redemption. These mysteries are vividly illustrated in this early Netherlandish painting which acted as a visual aid to the chaplet prayer.

In the lower register of the painting stands the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Christ Child. They are framed by a string of roses and a baldachino of honor. The area is also demarcated by a wall. This is an enclosed garden, a hortus conclusus, something that is replete with scriptural and theological symbolism.

In the Song of Solomon (4:12ff) there is a vivid account of the Beloved described is "a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed up." Christians interpreted this as an image of the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of God, the New Eve who would lead her children back into the Garden of Paradise that had been lost by the first Eve, the mother of all the nations.

Furthermore, the enclosed garden became a symbol for Mary's womb and a sign of her perpetual virginity. In that garden, the rose stood out as the most beautiful of flowers, a plant that is continually mentioned in Scripture, associated with Mary and seen as the only flower with sufficient beauty to express the mystery of the Incarnation. For Dante it symbolized the miracle of Divine Love brought down to earth, and in the Paradiso of his Divine Comedy, Heaven itself is shaped like a rose.

"Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds," says the Book of Wisdom (2:8). To the Christian, garlands became a sign of heavenly joy, a return to the happiness of Paradise. When paintings like this began to appear with the Virgin and Child reposing in a garden surrounded by roses, so too strings of beads were progressively being used by the faithful to pray to Mary for her intercessory powers while meditating upon significant events in salvation history.

The red and white roses in the painting represent prayers. The red roses designate the Paternosters (the Our Father) and the white roses represent ten successive recitations of the Ave Maria (the Hail Mary). With each decade of the Rosary one Mystery is meditated upon. The complete Rosary canvases fifteen events drawn from Scripture and Sacred Tradition

These include the five Joyful Mysteries (the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple) seen on the top register of the painting.

On the middle register the five Sorrowful Mysteries are portrayed (the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging of Christ, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross and the Crucifixion).

The last triad portrays the Glorious Mysteries (the Resurrection, the Ascension, Pentecost, the Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin, and the Coronation of Mary).

Down below, a tonsured figure in habit kneels before the Madonna and Child. He is accompanied by a dog with a flaming torch in its mouth. This is Saint Dominic whose Order has propagated devotion to the Rosary throughout the centuries. The dog is a pun on his name and a symbol of his Order (the "Domini canes," Hounds of the Lord). The flaming torch represents the light of truth. Behind Dominic kneels a Pope, an Emperor, and a king. These represent the Christian Estates, men of power supplicating the Virgin of the Rosary on behalf of those entrusted to their care.

On the other side of the painting the Christ Child leans over to bless a man kneeling while assassins are about ready to kill him. This is a reference to a legend which claimed that a knightly gentleman escaped death by the intervention of the Virgin of the Rosary. Out of the kneeling man's mouth, prayers usher forth in the shape of roses."Let my prayers arise before you like incense," says the psalmist. So too this man's prayers take the form of fragrant roses. The connection between the garden and the rosary was so great that people often fashioned the beads of their chaplets from a compound made from fragrant flowers, herbs and spices. Others would attach perfumed pomanders to their rosaries. In that way the senses were invited to take an active part in the devotional exercise. In meditating, one could imagine smelling the very flowers of Paradise!In the Garden of the Rosary, scent itself becomes a metaphor for the sweetness of prayer.

Illustration: The Fifteen Mysteries and the Virgin of the Rosary, attributed to the Netherlandish painter Goswijn van der Weyden, (1515-20)

This essay is taken from the October 2000 issue of MAGNIFICAT. Each month - along with the numerous Mass texts, morning and evening prayers, readings and poems of saints and mystics, blessings and more, it also has a wonderful "Art Essay" as well. If you like this one, why not treat yourself (or a friend) to a subscription to MAGNIFICAT? It is magnificent! You can order it directly from the website for MAGNIFICAT.

Or you can send a check for $39.95 (that's 14 issues, monthly - and special issues for Christmas and Holy Week/Easter) to: MAGNIFICAT / PO Box 91/ Spencerville MD 20868-9978 (301-559-5156).

Not as a child

"It is not as a child that I confess Christ. My hosanna rings forth from the crucible of suffering." (Dostoievsky)

Monday, October 07, 2002
Day Trip

God willing, I will be going on a day trip today to southern Maryland; catching some of the sites and visting and having dinner with some friends who live down that way. This is the spot of the first Catholic settlement in the colonies. We are hoping to stop by St Francis Xavier church, which is the oldest continous Catholic parish in the original 13 colonies.

I am still hurting very badly and this may be a good break. Keep me in your prayers. Thanks!

Hope to be back for tomorrow.

All Things New

"I announce to you your redemption.
Behold, I make all things new!
Behold, I do what cannot be done!
I restore the years that the locust and worms have eaten.
I restore to you the symphonies and operas which you deaf ears have never heard;
and the snowy mountains that you blind eyes have never seen; and the freedom you lost through plunder.
And I restore to you the good which your own foolish mistakes have cheated you of,
and I bring to you the love of which all other loves speak - the love which is joy and beauty,
and which you have sought in a thousand streets and for which you have wept and clawed your pillow."

- Thomas Howard, Christ The Tiger

Sunday, October 06, 2002
The Church of the Saints

Watching (thanks to EWTN) the quite beautiful canonization of Josemaria Escriva today got me thinking a bit. Opus Dei has its critics and they are brutal at times. Yet as things move on and Opus Dei deepens its roots and grows in good works and enterprises for the benefit of others, the "seal" of its authenticity is given by the canonization of its Founder, Josemaria Escriva.

I think this is so because Opus Dei focusses on what the Church herself thinks most important: holiness of heart and life. When all is said and done that is what the Church is all about: making saints. "There is only one sadness: not to be a saint" (Leon Bloy). Opus Dei, like anything human, is not perfect and not above some criticism (though I hesitate to criticize something that produces such goodness and generosity in the service of Christ and His Church). But it does seem, more than anything else, a means raised up by God to give His Church more holy people, and most especially those living in the world, working away at various professions, who sanctify the world, as it were, from within.

Yes, we are a Church of sinners. Of course! But we are a Church of saints! That is the call of us sinners, repentant and renewed - to follow Christ without reservation, no matter what. Not easy. Thus Opus Dei's discipline and praxis. I have not found Opus Dei to be terribly resonant with my own spirituality. But I am glad it is around and thriving even!

"Our Church is the Church of the saints. He who approaches her with mistrust sees nothing, but closed doors and barriers... Our Church, however, is the Church of the saints. To become a saint, what bishop would not give up his ring, his mitre; what cardinal would not give up his purple, what pontiff would not give up his white dress, his chamberlains, his Swiss guard and all his temporal possessions?

Who would not like to have the strength to pursue this wonderful adventure? Because holiness is an adventure, and even the only adventure. He who has once understood this has entered into the heart of Catholic faith, and felt his mortal flesh shudder with a dread different from that of death, a superhuman hope. Our Church is a Church of the saints."

(Georges Bernanos)

Even Me!

If you are so inclined, please read the entire prayer, slowly, and, as it were, "on your knees" - it came into my life years ago as a special gift and I offer it to you.

My Lord Jesus Christ, Thou Wonder of the world, most beautiful among the sons of men, before whom Thy very enemies bow down, acknowledging the marvel of Thy countenance, the perfection of Thy character, the invincible attraction of Thy whole self, how strange a thing it is that there can be those who pass Thee by unnoticed, how stranger still that even we pass Thee by!

Yet is it even so. We believe, we are certain, we know; we build our life here, and our hope hereafter, on Thee and Thy claim; we own Thee, not only to be perfect Man, but to be very God of very God; we see in Thee alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, the climax of all for which this world was made, the source from which flows whatever of good this world contains; we can see all this, and know it to be true, and in our moments of emotion can think we would gladly give our lives to witness to its truth; and yet the next minute we can ignore Thee; we can go counter to Thee; we can go our way through life as if Thou hadst never been.

More than this. We who have the light can reach behind the simple story of the Gospels; with Thy Apostle St. Paul to guide us we can understand in part what Thy Resurrection signified; that "having once risen thou diest now no more, death can no more have dominion over thee"; that therefore Thou art living now as Thou wast living then, the same Jesus, now as then, the same utter truth, the same fascination, the same understanding sympathy, the same beating heart: "Jesus Christ yesterday, today and the same for ever."

We can realize all this, understand it sufficiently to know that it is true; we can accept the fact of Thy being, and of Thy nearness to us here and now; and yet we can think, and act, and build up our lives as if it were not or as if to us it meant nothing.

We can, with eyes of faith, see Thy face glowing in the darkness; with consciousness of hope we can feel Thy hands stretched out to us to seize our own; with the instinct of love we can distinguish the very accent of Thy voice, even as did Thy fellow-countrymen of Galilee, calling to us, whispering our very names, telling us of love that human words cannot express - all this is ours, and by its very clearness we know it to be true; it is no fancy, it is the offshoot of no mere sentiment; and yet withal we can turn away, our vision obscured by the fascination of a trifle; and we can act as if we had never learnt to "taste and see how sweet is the Lord!"

Nay, there is something more. We can hear Thee, in words that true hearing cannot misunderstand, giving Thyself to us to be our slave, to be our food, our life, our abiding companion; yet we can still remain unmoved. One or two among men in the ages past we can see who have learnt Thee, and, once they have learnt, have counted all else but refuse in comparison; who have loved Thee, and once they have begun to love, have known for certain that no other love could draw them away, with this no other love could compare; who have given themselves to Thee, and once they have made the surrender, have then proved what heroism, what a true man's strength can accomplish - the strength that conquers torture, that makes a toy of death; the strength that magically turns everything to gladness.

We can all see this; we can admire and approve; we can say that here is a man at his best, because he has found the true goal of his being, has attained to that likeness to Jesus which is man's ideal - all this we can see, and can say, and then can turn about upon our heel and go our way, as if for us these things had no meaning.

Truly, what a strange thing is man! Whether it be the man who believes, yet is not subdued, or the man who will not believe, as if to believe so grand and great a truth were in some way demeaning to himself. Demeaning to acknowledge Jesus Christ! Demeaning to own Him for my Brother, whose kinship makes me royal! To call Him my friend, whose great heart expands mine beyond the limits of the world! To take Him for my companion, whose comradeship gives life a new meaning! To accept Him for my Leader, whose service is a hall-mark of nobility! To set Him up for my Ideal man which neither God nor man could make anything more grand! Demeaning to be won by Jesus Christ! If man thinks so, or if in his meanness he acts so, can he be worth so great a gift? Can he be worth the offering of the life, the outpouring of the blood, of Jesus?

Yes; even to this Christ says, "Yes"; and it is a last disclosure of His character, the crowning feature of all, a revelation, which breaks down the heart of St. Paul, and would break down the heart of every man who would let himself be penetrated by it:

"Christ loved me, even me, and gave himself, for me, even for me."

(Archbishop Alban Goodier, S.J. The More Excellent Way)

Saint Josemaria Escriva

Aerial view of today's canonization

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims filled St Peter's Square and spilled into the streets for the canonization of Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. Opus Dei is one of the most dynamic, influential (and controversial) realities of the Church today: and Opus Dei has been designated a "personal prelature" - something new in the Church's canons and structure. It's emphasis in on sanctity through ordinary life in the world - and in this is anticipated the teachings of the Second Vatican Council

"Dearest brothers and sisters," John Paul told the crowd, "in this solemn Eucharist, the Church registers in the roll of Saints Blessed Josemaria Escriva, priest, founder of Opus Dei."

"Through his intercession, we ask almighty God to transform all moments and circumstances of life into occasions to serve with joy and simplicity the Church and all its souls."

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